Home Correction journal Authors seek retraction of study in Nature, review four other papers – Retraction Watch

Authors seek retraction of study in Nature, review four other papers – Retraction Watch

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Wenbin Lin

A group of researchers from the University of Chicago asked a Nature journal to remove an article after PubPeer commenters reported numerous duplicate images in the article.

The article, “Synergistic checkpoint-blockade and radiotherapy-radiodynamic therapy via an immunomodulatory nanoscale metal-organic framework”, was published last month in Nature Biomedical Engineering. According to its lead author, Wenbin Lin, the technology is already in a human trial.

After five different comments on PubPeer, Lin first said that he and his colleagues would correct the article:

We thank the reader for pointing out these errors in the supplemental material to our recently published article in Nat Biomed Eng. The first four errors relate to the PBS and H2DBP control groups. For the last error, the absence of organic abnormality and general toxicity is supported by many other sources of evidence in the manuscript. We can assure that the correction of these errors will not impact the conclusions of this article. We submitted corrections to the journal and provided detailed explanations to the editor. We apologize to readers for these errors in our article.

In a second comment, Lin said his team is “investigating what happened and will report our findings in due course” and apologized “for unacceptable errors in this article.” But in a third comment after more than a dozen additional comments on PubPeer, Lin blamed first author Kaiyuan Ni, his former graduate student:

After analysis of the problematic images and multiple encounters with other authors, we concluded that these issues were solely caused by the misconduct of the first author. We submitted a retraction note for this article yesterday. Regarding the tumor size issue, our protocol has a size limit of 2cm3 and some of the antitumor efficacy experiments were ongoing during the shutdown phase of the Covid pandemic in 2929. [sic]. I apologize for our inability to grasp the misconduct of the first author.

Ni, now a postdoc at MIT, did not respond to our requests for comment.

In comments to Retraction Watch, Lin reiterated what he had posted on PubPeer, which is that

… the first author misused the images in these articles, especially in the Nat Biomed Eng article. I am not in a position to say more because I have asked my institution to open an investigation into this matter. We have requested Nature Biomed’s retraction. Eng. paper and need more time to understand what really happened in other newspapers. I have repeatedly apologized for my inability to detect these potential faults and will have to await the completion of the investigation to comment further.

Lin said he “communicated with [Ni] after the publication of the first set of images on Pubpeer.

In response to PubPeer’s comments on four other articles for similar issues, Lin wrote:

We are opening an investigation into this matter and will shed light on this matter. We will report our findings and work with journals to resolve issues. As the corresponding author of these problematic articles, I apologize for failing to detect the potential faults of a singular former graduate student in my lab.

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